I have volunteered at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival for about 15 years, albeit not all years in a row. There were times that I could not get off work or I got a job working in the country at the last minute so I missed those years.
It has been fun although the last couple of years I have slowed down and feel more aches and pains. I do not go to the volunteer parties any more because imagine this, I need to sleep! I do like the main stage shows but my favourites are the sessions at the smaller stages, where often a few musicians will jam and those magical moments happen. One of the memorable sessions was at Stage 3, ” Northern Exposure” with The Jerry Cans, Dylan Menzie, Altameda and Colleen Brown. The magic for me happened when Dylan Menzie from PEI sang a lovely tribute to his Aunt’s memory and one of the singers from The Jerry Cans accompanied him with throat singing. I found that emotionally powerful. The ironic part was that I left my camera home so have no photo but perhaps that allowed me to be totally in the moment without any distractions. I enjoyed the rhythm and vocals of two locals, Colleen Brown and Altameda, both of whom I hope to hear again here in the city.
Tim Williams, Tony D of MonkeyJunk, Kit Johnson and Steve Dawson
I did get photos of another favourite session (lots of favourites) where various players of the blues genre joined together in having a good time. Amos Garrett and the House Band, Cecile Doo-Kingue, MonkeyJunk with Paul Reddick, Steve Dawson and Tim Williams.
Paul Reddick, Rusty Reed, Steve Marriner of MonkeyJunk
Another enjoyable session took place at Stage 3 on Saturday entitled ” Ancient Cultures.” Artists included Mohsin Zaman, Huun Huur Tu, Logan Alexis Singers and William Prince. Huun Huur Tu did a variety of Mongolian throat singing which was mesmerizing and we were treated to pow wow style dancing that accompanied great vocals and drumming of the Logan Alexis Singers. William Prince, an indigenous man from Manitoba sang some thoughtful pieces with a pleasing voice and told some good stories as well. Mohsin Zaman , who is originally from Pakistan and now lives in Alberta in a residency program where he is really “giving back” as a mentor to students, sang haunting melodies and introduced some deep throat tones that sounded great.
Some of the Logan Alexis Singers and Dancers
I have been a fan of Amadou and Mariam, from Mali, West Africa for a few years now, having first heard them at this festival.My aches and pains were forgotten as the infecious West African rhythms spurred me on to dance beside the main stage at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.
I enjoyed the festival and my co-workers on the Beverage Crew. We were busy serving drinks on those hot days and all that counter wiping kept things clean and the wasps at bay. When I wasn’t taking photos memories in the mind were being made. Brandi Carlisle is one of those memories that always reminds me of the fact that her voice is amazing and the band works together so beautifully. Always a pleasure to hear and see her in concert.
The only unpleasant memory was the wind on Thursday evening. It swept up the hill and carried many items away as people scrambled to grab their gear. The worst was seeing one of the giant video screens come loose but not detached , and seeing it flopping upside down back to front and side to side. Staff and volunteers ran to secure it and prevent further damage. Shortly after, the grounds were evacuated. Good call , I say, as patron safety is of utmost importance and it was possible that worse storm cells in the area were going to hit. We missed Shakey Graves and The Decemberists but they have been invited back next year.
The next morning a few of us on shift chipped in and helped do dishes in the Festival Kitchen that were abandoned when the evacuation order was announced. That is part of the spirit of this festival, the hard-working, friendly volunteers who help keep this festival going. Bravo! That is a big reason why I keep going back, it is like a family reunion. Volunteering has its perks, with a free pass to the festival, t-shirt and delicious food-the best I eat all year. That, and definitely not least, the love of the music!